On the 9th April, 2012, I broke the news that The Division of the Damned was live on Kindle, and that the paperback would soon follow. I don’t have the words to tell you how proud I was when I wrote that. How it rated right up there with fatherhood, building a house and my first proper CD recording as a milestone in my life. How, at that moment in time, it was just so damnably good to be Reggie Jones for a change.
When the book arrived, I fondled it like a mother touches her newborn child. I was ecstatic that I finally held it in my hands, and that my work would soon grace the bookshelves of other people.
It sounds corny, almost sad, that a grown man could go through such adolescent, naive emotions, especially when anyone can release a book nowadays, but that’s how it felt. Years of work went into writing and researching it, and then the sending it off to be rejected time and time again. Some publishers were put off by the fact the SS weren't the bad guys, or that it crossed two distinct genres, (war and horror) and thus would be hard to pigeon-hole. For some it just wasn't what was wanted, (zombies were the up and coming monster, vampires had had their day by then) and for others it was just so bad they couldn't even be bothered to get in touch. I waited for an answer from one firm for nigh on a year. When I phoned them up, I was given a curt no thank you, and told not to bother phoning up again! Yet there it was, my book in my hand, made possible by Night publishing.
Night publishing was brilliant. We were basically just a bunch of like minded enthusiasts, pooling our resources and limited knowledge to give each other a shove up the ladder. Tim would suggest something to see if it could sell our books better, and we’d all willingly go along with it. There was a camaraderie there that I’d previously only experienced at Struggling Authors, but with a lot more people. We weren't in competition, we worked for each other, buying each other’s work, spreading each other’s links and just being supportive. The forum on there was as it should be on a writer's website, with a rook of short stories being critiqued and voted for in a jokey yet appreciative way. I can honestly say there was no malice, no arrogance and no backstabbing, which for a bunch of writers is very unusual.
Night, for various reasons, turned into Taylor, and though some people left our ranks to go on to different things, we still had a good core of people who shared the ideal and acted as friends, not competitors.
Taylor Street released my second book, The House in Wales, and once again, though not as raw, the emotions I went through when my proof copy arrived on the doorstep were memorable.
By this time I was pretty savvy as to how the industry, and especially Amazon, worked. A few of my friends had started their own publishing houses, using Kindle as a platform for sales, and Create Space for paperbacks, and they were doing well for themselves.
However, I had no plans to leave Taylor as it was exactly how I wanted it to be. I’d write something, my mate George would proof read it, (and he is a GIT when it comes to critique. I can’t count how many times he’d cross something out and simply write, “Shite” next to it). Then a couple of other chaps would be my Beta readers, and I’d send the corrected version off to Taylor. Yes there were issues, yes it didn't always go to plan, but what does nowadays?
As I put, I was happy and had no plans to leave… until now.
This morning Tim made it known that Taylor Street Publishing will close its doors as of 31st May. The books will be taken off the cyber shelves of Amazon, Smashword and The Book Depository, royalties will be paid out and the firm will be no more.
Tim and Kathleen are my friends, so I won't go into the reasons why Taylor is shutting up shop, but they are health related and serious enough to call a halt on the proceedings.
And basically that’s that. The books are back in my name as of the 31st, so the question is where do I go from here?
Well, the fact is that even though my books have done, “alright”, I haven't had the Times Literary supplement knocking on my door begging for an interview, and I don’t see Harper Collins waiting in the wings to scoop me up like a golden lamb either. So self-publishing is the most realistic route for me to take right now. I think I could quite easily move into the independent market and do alright for myself, well at least manage the same sales.
Add to that the wealth of experience my writerly chums who have taken the lonely path of self-publishing before me have to give, and I honestly think I'll be OK.
No, for me, the real disappointment is the death of the camaraderie, the almost familial atmosphere we experienced at Night and the early days of Taylor Street, that hurts the most. Ask anyone who knows me, I always want things to stay as they are, be it friends or situations, so to make that break now won't kill me, but I’d sooner not have to make it.
I’ll re-release Division and House on my own, and my work in progress, The Sisterhood of the Serpent, too. The short story anthology I advertised recently will be published with my mate Paul Rudd, so the books will be out, just the circumstances will be different.
I'll close now by saying thanks to Tim and Kathleen for your input into my life, I hope we remain friends and stay in contact. You guys took a chance on a book that crossed genres, painted the SS as goodies and went against everything the industry was looking for, but managed to turn a dream into reality and I won’t forget that.
To all the people I had the privilege of knowing as fellow stable authors, I wish you ALL the very best for the future and I hope that at least one of us makes it into film. Please stay in contact, on Facebook or where ever.
To all the people who have supported me over the last couple of years, and you know who you are, from the bottom of my heart I thank you all… and don’t go away as I need you all now more than ever !! :D
Take care, see you soon.